The gin renaissance has given birth to many new gins, but it has also become an opportunity to look back at old gin styles and Haymans Old Tom Gin is one such gin.
The Hayman family have an amazing pedigree as distillers. The company was started in the 1860s by James Burroughs who created Beefeater gin. It was sold to Whitbread in the 1980s, but became a family business once again in 1988, largely producing gins for other companies. However in 2004 the family launched their 1820 gin liqueur and have now expanded the range by recreating old family recipes and using traditional botanicals.
What is Old Tom?
Early distillation processes were a little rough around the edges and the gin was often sweetened liquorice to make it more palatable. London Dry gin, which we drink is so popular today, was unheard of. If you look at old cocktail recipe books, like Jerry Thomas’s Bartenders Guide ‘How to Mix Drinks’, the only gin referred to, is Old Tom.
Why is it called Old Tom?
So many well-contested views on this one, from the legend of a black cat falling into a still, to being named after an early gin distiller called Thomas Chamberlain. You can research that one at your leisure!
How sweet is it?
Not being a fan of sweet drinks, I was bracing myself with this one. However, I was delighted with the flavour. All the aspects I adore in gin; juniper, citrus and peppery spice are all still there, but with a subtle sweetness, that makes it softer on the palate. Hayman’s uses the same 10 botanicals (juniper, coriander seeds, nutmeg, cinnamon, orange peel, angelica root, orris root, cassia bark, liquorice and lemon peel) in all of its gins, but the Old Tom style has twice as much juniper as its London Dry which is music to my ears!
How to drink Haymans Old Tom Gin
Classic drinks like The Martinez, The Gin Rickey, or the Tom Collins, were all originally made with Old Tom Gin. As its softer and sweeter it also makes a delicious Old-Fashioned. I’ll be experimenting further with Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, and using it as a wonderful introduction to gin for people who are not usually gin fans.
Country of Origin: UK